For two weeks in the fall of 2017, best-selling author James Ellroy re-investigated the 1976 murder of Sal Mineo, the Oscar-nominated actor from Rebel Without a Cause who died at 37 in the carport outside his West Hollywood apartment. Together with Glynn Martin — a retired 20-year LAPD veteran — Ellroy pored over seven boxes of files at the L.A. Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau that detailed more than two years of painstaking detective work leading to the arrest and conviction of Lionel Williams. “There was missing material,” says Ellroy. “We never saw the crime scene photographs, I put those together from descriptions.” And based on his decades of experience writing about crime in fiction (L.A. Confidential) and nonfiction (LAPD ‘53, co-authored with Martin), Ellroy extrapolated and “stitched together” what was missing to create this immersive version of events, told from the point of view of the detectives on the case.
SHERIFF’S HOMICIDE FILE #079200909-0977-011
Victim: Mineo, Salvatore/WM/37.
8567 Holloway Drive/West Hollywood.
Retrospective file summary and recalled narrative. We, the undersigned detectives attest:
Holloway ran short and cut diagonal, from La Cienega northwest to the Strip. One half mile, tops. Mid-rent apartment cribs and a big Catholic church. Film-biz habitues. Homosexuals and hip kids.
The above-stated address: Apartments. Postwar, stucco, three floors, a south-facing facade. Quick access to an alleyway carport.
An open carport.
The alleyway’s narrow. The Park Wellington Towers are built up flush against it.